STEM Volunteer Day

Volunteerism – Adding Another Dimension to STEAM Career Exploration

Last week we celebrated National Volunteer Week (April 15-21), an annual celebration observed across the globe to promote and show appreciation for volunteerism. Volunteer week is also an opportunity to celebrate the impact that volunteers make in building stronger, more resilient communities.

In the past two weeks I’ve traveled across the country to help our partners celebrate their digital STEAM education programs and honor the students who participated in these programs. I’ve seen volunteers construct smart parking lots of out legos to showcase the importance of cybersecurity. I’ve listened to employee volunteers share stories with students on how they can make a difference as tomorrow’s leaders. These student celebrations exemplify incredible volunteerism and inspire students to learn about new career paths and connect their interests to jobs of the 21st century.

To shine a light on the people to make a difference in their communities, we interviewed employee volunteers from Electronic Arts (EA) and Neustar to find out why they were interested in volunteering and why they think it’s important to give back to communities their partnerships serve.

Tatyana Dyshlova Electronic Arts EA Volunteer STEM Career Day
Producer, DICE Los Angeles
Electronic Arts (EA)

Q: Why were you interested in volunteering at the event today?

A: Showing students the workplace in person makes STEAM careers feel a lot more concrete. They can come see us doing day-to-day work. They can see that it’s something you can legitimately do. Having something real and tangible shows that yes, you can do this. This is a legitimate career option.

Q: Why do you think it’s so important for EA to give back to the community?

A: I love that EA is participating in the community and trying to open up these careers to more and more people. STEAM jobs are communicated as not serious, or not real careers. It’s important to change that conception so that we do get a lot of talent. It’s a real career, it’s a lot of fun, and I would love for other people to have the same opportunity I did.

Q: What did you hope to take away from this event?

A: I want to give back and open those doors for the next generation and hold out the hand and hope they will come on board.

Q: Finish the sentence STEAM is….

A: STEAM is right brain and left brain having an awesome frolic in the adventure of life.

Yosha Ulrich-Sturmat
SVP, Corporate Planning/Operations & Communications
Neustar

Neustar Volunteer STEM Career Day

Q: Why were you interested in volunteering at the event today?

A: I enjoy engaging the next generation workforce and sharing a glimpse of career possibilities in STEM and STEM related fields.

Q: Why do you think it’s so important for Neustar to give back to the community?

A: Not only is it important for a company to do well, but also to do good in the communities in which we live and work. Meeting face to face with students after they complete the online course adds another dimension and opportunity to explore what they learned and why they should care about STEM.

Q: What did you hope to take away from this event today?

A: I hope to connect online learning to real life possibilities.

Q: Finish the sentence STEM is….

A: STEM is the fuel that will drive the connected world forward

 

Empowering the Next Generation to Reimagine Civic Engagement Through the Lens of African-American History

On this 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination and more than sixty years after the passage of Brown v. Board of Education, we celebrate the progress wrought by the Civil Rights Movement and by those who gave their lives to improve the lives of everyone in their communities. Stories of grit, resilience and determination remind us all that it is as important as ever to understand and learn from the past. Last week, executives from TIAA and students from Vance High School traveled to our nation’s capital for a field trip to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Our time at the exhibits underscored for all of us how history is instrumental in shaping tomorrow’s leaders.

The field trip served as a culminating event for select group of Vance High School students, from Charlotte, North Carolina, who participated in EVERFI’s 306: African-American History course. Throughout the personal tour from museum cultural historian John Franklin, students found themselves up close and personal with historical artifacts and stories of heroes they had just learned about in the digital course.

The museum featured a map that outlined events leading up to Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students to be unconstitutional. The students were particularly surprised and inspired to learn about how their home state helped pave the way. In 1951, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was ordered by federal courts to admit African Americans to its law, medical, and graduate schools. Though primary and secondary school systems remained segregated, the Pamlico County NAACP also filed a lawsuit for school equalization or integration in 1951. At the time, the national NAACP was readying the court challenge that would lead to the Brown decision.

We also learned that for many involved in fighting to end school segregation or supporting the civil rights movement of the 1950’s, their historical legacy was about deciding for themselves who they wanted to be as civically engaged Americans. “Maybe if we said, ‘this is American History, and this is what happened to people, instead of, this is African-American History and this only happened to them’,” said one Vance student, reflecting on the visit. “Then maybe students who don’t relate to this would realize it’s their history too and it’s about all people.”

Overall, the trip underscored the key takeaways of the 306 course and helped us to internalize how the past shaped today’s landscape. Our visit challenged us to think beyond our comfort levels and examine what we are trying to achieve for the greater social good. The legacies of the heroes and heroines covered in the course and at the museum provide the roadmap needed to guide this next generation of leaders on their journey of self and civic discovery.

6 Women Who’ve Made Major STEM Contributions

In the past decade, we’ve seen a huge uptick in women and girls of all backgrounds and ethnicities showing an interest in STEM careers. With more and more women focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, we have more minds than ever striving to make our world a better and more advanced place.

However, women have been working in STEM fields for a long time! From Yvonne Brill’s contributions to rocket science in the 1920’s to Gertrude Elion’s work in medicine and drug development in the 1980’s, women have been making leaps and bounds in all sorts of fields of study! Career In STEM has put together a list of just a few of the amazing women who, in recent history, have made major discoveries or advancements in a STEM field:

 

1. Katherine Freese

Once the Director of Nordita, Stockholm’s theoretical physics institute, Freese now works at the University of Michigan. She works in the fields of theoretical cosmology and astroparticle physics, and studies dark matter and dark energy. An alumni of Princeton University, Columbia University and the University of Chicago, Freese has also worked at several universities and centers, including MIT and the Harvard/Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

2. Chien-Shiung Wu

A physicist who focused especially on nuclear physics, Wu conducted several experiments and made many discoveries. One breakthrough includes creating the method of dividing uranium metal into Uranium-235 and Uranium-238 via gaseous diffusion. She received the inaugural Wolf Prize in Physics in 1978 and has been dubbed as the “Queen of Nuclear Research”.

Courtesy Wikipedia

3. Yvonne Brill

A scientist and engineer whose career spanned over six decades, Brill began her work in the early 1900s. In the 1940s she was the only woman rocket scientist, and was on the team that designed the first American satellite. In addition to this, Brill also created a propulsion system that keeps satellites in orbit. Her extensive work eventually led to her receiving the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Obama in 2011.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

4. Tierra Guinn

A young rocket scientist who began her work before even graduating from college, Guinn was helping NASA build a revolutionary new rocket while wrapping up her education at MIT. Guinn began her employment with Boeing – the company hired to build the rocket for NASA – as a Rocket Structural Design and Analysis Engineer in the summer of 2016, just after completing her junior year.

5. Gertrude B. Elion

Gertrude B. Elion made advancements in the field of medicine during the 20th century. In addition to developing the immunosuppressive drug Azathioprine, Elion also supervised the development of the revolutionary HIV/AIDS drug, AZT. For her work and contributions, Elion received the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1988, sharing the award with George Hitchings and Sir James Black.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

6. Barbara McClintock

Similar to Yvonne Brill, McClintock’s scientific career spanned many decades. She graduated from Cornell in the 1920s, and dedicated her work to cytogenetics. Her research led to the discovery of gene movement amongst and within chromosomes, and she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1983. McClintock’s recognition in her field came years before receiving that award however, as she became a member of the National Academy of Sciences in the mid-1940s, and was considered to be the finest cytogeneticist alive.

 

 Sources cited:
Torres, Jennifer Mary. “Groundbreaking Contributions from Women in STEM.” https://ecurrent.fit.edu/blog/women-in-stem/groundbreaking-contributions-from-women-in-stem/
McFadden, Christopher. “10 Greatest Women in STEM”. https://interestingengineering.com/10-greatest-women-stem
Curry, Colleen. “17 Top Female Scientist Who Have Changed the World.” https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/17-top-female-scientists-who-have-changed-the-worl/
London, Jay. “Good Housekeeping honors rocket scientist Tiera Guinn ‘17”. http://news.mit.edu/2017/good-housekeeping-honors-mit-rocket-scientist-tiera-guinn-1016
Martin, Douglas. “Yvonne Brill, a Pioneering Rocket Scientist, Dies at 88.” https://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/31/science/space/yvonne-brill-rocket-scientist-dies-at-88.html
University of Michigan. “Dr. Katherine Freese.” http://www-personal.umich.edu/~ktfreese/
Rogers, Kara. “AZT”. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/science/AZT
Park, Alice. “The Story Behind the First AIDS Drug”. http://time.com/4705809/first-aids-drug-azt/
Digest of Education Statistics. “Number and percentage distribution of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees/certificates conferred by postsecondary institutions, by race/ethnicity, level of degree/certificate, and sex of student: 2008-09 through 2014-15.” https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d16/tables/dt16_318.45.asp

Picture sources:
Chien-Shiung Wu picture courtesy of Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
Yvonne Brill picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Gertrude B. Elion picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

STEM career online education middle school

5 Reasons Why STEM Career Training Should Start in Middle School

5 Reasons Why STEM Career Training Should Start in Middle School

Imagine learning to create algorithms for better music playlists, or prototyping and manufacturing a new running shoe—at the age of twelve. Traditionally, training for careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) has focused on college students. But if our goal is to encourage more students to pursue STEM-related careers, research shows that STEM career training should start much earlier—ideally in middle school. Here’s why.

  • Academic Interest Often Wanes in Middle School

Middle school can be a tumultuous time for students, when social priorities outweigh academic ones. Unfortunately, students who form negative of opinions of math and science often retain those biases—permanently. According to a 2008 study commissioned by the Australian Department of Education, by the time students reach high school, many view science as “uninteresting, unimportant, and irrelevant to their lives.” But programs in middle school that help “connect the dots” between STEM and real life make science and math feel relevant for kids, keeping them engaged and interested.

  • Career Aspirations Begin in Middle School

Online STEM Career educationParadoxically, while academic interest often wanes in the middle-school years, these students are already forming serious opinions about future career paths. Exposure to STEM careers during this time triggers students to seriously consider jobs in engineering, technology, manufacturing, biology, etc. Many perhaps looking at these career possibilities for the first time. These aspirations inform critical future choices—such as choosing STEM classes in high school, or even applying to STEM-centered magnet schools. Yet these small decisions are what lead to adult careers in STEM fields.

  • STEM Training Teaches Problem Solving

Not every student who studies STEM in middle school will pursue a STEM-related career, but the skills they gain can be applied to any field. This is especially critical in a world where employers value problem solving and critical thinking abilities over college majors, according to new research from the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Since STEM programs specifically hone analytical reasoning and problem solving, all students stand to benefit from learning these valuable skills.

Two girls learning STEM careers in chemistry

  • Early STEM Career Training Helps Close the Gender Gap

According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce but comprise only 29 percent of the science and engineering workforce—despite the fact that boys and girls perform equally in STEM education. In order to close this gap, early intervention must be implemented to remedy gender-specific stereotypes. Exposing girls to STEM career education—early on—prevents girls from feeling shut out of STEM careers and empowers them to consider career paths that might otherwise feel unachievable.

  • STEM Education Facilitates Hands-On Learning

STEM career hands on experiment

Engaging, hands-on learning is critical to reaching middle-school students—and, done right, STEM education is the perfect vehicle. Instead of suffering boredom during long lectures, students should be inspired to fully engage in projects: conducting experiments, making decisions, and learning through trial and error. And by exposing students to STEM through interactive, kid-centric programs, like EVERFI’s Endeavor platform, teachers can transform sometimes-intimidating material into memorable learning experiences.

Recap

In today’s technology-driven world, more than half of all students will be expected to use STEM as part of their future careers. Providing them with both exposure and career training is a must. The earlier that training begins, the more likely that students will understand and consider STEM careers and be empowered with the skillsets to succeed professionally—wherever their adult lives take them.

Tomorrow’s STEM Leaders are the Innovators of Today

 

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the world’s premier venue for innovation and breakthrough technology. Last week, three teams of Las Vegas high school students competed in the Student Business Pitch Competition finals on the CES main stage, beating out 15 other teams. The finalists wowed the judges with their entrepreneurial STEM-driven ideas designed to support their peers become tomorrow’s innovation leaders.

The participating students, all of whom completed CTA’s Future Innovators digital entrepreneurship program, pitched ideas ranging from an app aimed at helping students manage stress, to an affordable laptop-size screen that mirrors a smartphone and allows users to more easily type documents and perform research. The grand prize went to a team of three young women from Cimarron Memorial High School who created Conditional Cube, a novel invention that encourages students to learn coding in a fun, more interactive way. They intentionally geared their product towards elementary school-aged students to expose coding fundamentals at an early age and help alleviate the STEM skills gap.

“People need to understand how to use technology, but also create and manipulate it,” said Conditional Cube team member Ajaya Branch. According to their research, a recent Gallup survey states that nine out of ten parents want their kids to learn programming because it teaches logic, problem solving, and creativity, and can lead to a better career in the future.  But most parents lack the skills necessary to teach their kids these skills, and most schools do not specifically teach computer programming. With their invention, customers can code their cube to perform a variety of tasks based on personal interests, such as sending an alert when the garage door opens. The cube simplifies coding in a more digestible, enjoyable way and allows parents to be involved in the learning experience.

For these students, the opportunity to complete CTA’s Future Innovators program, develop a business pitch, and compete at CES has already had a profound impact on the way they think about business. The pitch competition judges were so impressed by the three teams that they offered to  provide continued mentorship and help bring their ideas to market. It’s only a matter of time before these Future Innovators join the workforce and help steer the innovation economy.

Inspiring Students Through STEM Education

STEM Education

Economically, the need to provide future generations with STEM education has never been more pressing. Experts believe that up to 85% percent of the jobs today’s students will occupy don’t yet exist. Science and engineering career opportunities are expected to grow at double the rate of growth of the overall workforce and the vast majority of jobs in the next decade will require STEM skills.

How then do we prepare students for the careers of 2030? What skills, knowledge, and attitudes will help guide and prepare students for the technologically-infused careers of the future? While it might be up to a decade before today’s 6th graders enter the full-time workforce, middle school is the ideal time for students to begin seriously considering what may lay beyond high school.

Leading research indicates that most students form their career aspirations by age 14, a compelling rationale to bring career exploration front and center during the critical middle school years. Further research demonstrates that one of the leading indicators for student interest in STEM when departing high school is directly linked to the student’s interest in STEM when they entered high school. As such, it is critical to engage and sustain interest before students begin to think about selecting courses for high school.

Endeavor – STEM Career Exploration is EVERFI’s latest course to spark curiosity in STEM careers and reinforce critical STEM education in classrooms each day. This interactive digital program encourages learners to explore the wide world of STEM and inspires middle school students to consider how their individual qualities, skills, and interests might align with future STEM career opportunities.

Four key components comprise the backbone of the Endeavor course experience:

  • Exposure to real professionals. Throughout the course, students encounter a variety of STEM career opportunities and pathways. These careers represent diverse industries served by STEM and reflect a variety of educational and skill requirements.
  • Grounded in real-world activities. Research indicates a gap between students’ perception of “school science” versus science in the “real world”. Endeavor highlights novel, real-world applications of STEM in our surrounding world.
  • Deep personalization.  As students move through Endeavor, they are encouraged to explore careers and content that connect to their interests and skills.
  • Individualized take-away. As they complete different lessons, students build  an individualized Field Guide – a digital resource containing actionable next steps and course pathing suggestions for students to pursue now, and down the road, as they prepare for the careers of the future.

By connecting students’ interests to future STEM opportunities, Endeavor will engage students in critical STEM skills and encourage them to pursue future STEM careers, whether a contemporary occupation or a potential opportunity that currently only exists in possibility.